Kudos to the PGA TOUR for rescinding a two shot penalty imposed on Justin Rose this past weekend.
The sequence of events began when Rose backed away from a chip shot from behind the 18th green during the third round. Rose hesitated, but after consulting with playing partner Sergio Garcia and seeing a replay on the video board next to the green, decided that the ball had not moved.
After an additional thirty minutes of scrutiny of multiple broadcast feeds and HD television, it was determined that the ball did in fact move. Rose was penalized two shots: one for the ball moving and one for not returning the ball to its original position. That’s Rule 18-2b.
By the time Rose had teed off Sunday, however, the penalty had been rescinded. In the first application of Decision 18-4, TOUR officials determined that the penalty was not detectible except with the use of “sophisticated technology”:
“The Rules Committee reopened the incident and focused on how much the use of sophisticated technology played a part in making the original ruling. After that review, it was determined that the only way to confirm whether and how much the ball in fact changed position was to utilize sophisticated technology.”
In other words, Rose had done everything properly, and it was not humanly possible to determine at that point whether the ball had in fact moved.
Good call. To do otherwise would have the effect of players insisting on HD review of every shot where a potential miscue occurred. That would slow an already laggard pace to a crawl and detract from the overall playing and viewing experience. My sense is that the vast majority of players (with a few notable exceptions) do not intend to bend or break the rules to their advantage. The sport has been anchored in its reputation or integrity since at least the days of Bobby Jones (“You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”) and that is a cornerstone of what makes golf different. The TOUR’s application of Decision 18-4 makes allowances without damaging that tradition.